Great Blue Heron Portrait

Great Blue Heron portraitGreat Blue Heron portrait – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light, not baited

This Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) got up close and personal with me a few years ago in Florida, it largely ignored my presence altogether as it stalked prey on shore of the Gulf of Mexico. It was a touch unnerving to have such a large wading bird with a spear-like bill towering over me as I sat on the warm sugar sand photographing it. I’m glad it didn’t mistake me for prey.

As usual, I’ve done very little post processing to this image, cropped, removed two little dust bunnies, darkened the mid tones a bit then I masked and sharpened the heron. There are some photographers who would have cleaned up the salt encrusted bill and possibly removed the feather on the bill tip but I prefer to have my images as natural as possible and don’t find the downy feather or the salt on the bill a distraction.

Wow, those occipital plumes are long!



  1. Dan Huber August 3, 2012 at 5:15 am

    I absolutely love this shot Mia. Your gift for photography is mixed with the gift for getting close.

    • Mia McPherson August 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks Dan, I was glad the heron came so close even with that spear-like bill.

  2. Susan August 2, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    What a beauty, wonderful capture Mia

    • Mia McPherson August 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Thanks Susan, I think the heron was a beauty too.

  3. Syl Lobato August 2, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    This is so natural and it..

  4. Merrill Ann Gonzales August 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    This is wonderful. I so enjoy the way you have of bringing the experience of these birds up close and personal.

    • Mia McPherson August 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      Thank you very much Merrill!

  5. M. Firpi August 2, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Great close-up Mia, it is precisely those downy feathers that stay on the beak after they preen themselves that makes it so tempting for Photoshop users to clone out/heal. I think it’s precisely how faithful the image remains to the original scene that gives me a sense of the truthfulness of the place depicted. This is what I like about your blog and your bird photography. I don’t consider myself a big re-touch photographer neither. The only time I may do this is if for some reason for commercial and/or for design (a commercial poster for example), an image of the bird may demand a graphic representation used for a logo or poster, then it’s okay.

    • Mia McPherson August 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm

      Thanks so much Maria, I have a very light touch with Photoshop because I do want my images to be as natural as possible and I appreciate hearing from others who have the same preference. Of course as you mentioned there might be times more photoshopping is used for certain reasons.

  6. Laurence Butler August 2, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Majestic shot! Great Blue Herons suffer sometimes from exposure, being so common, but they are magnificent!

    • Mia McPherson August 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      Laurence, I think they are magnificent too. Thank you so much for your comment.

  7. Carol Mattingly August 2, 2012 at 10:05 am

    He is a beaut Mia. I would have been wary too of him with that long sharp looking bill. Carol

    • Mia McPherson August 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      Thanks Carol, those bills look even sharper from close up.

  8. Stu August 2, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Gorgeous Photograph Mia! (just wanted to be first to use the word here 😉

    • Mia McPherson August 2, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Thanks for your comment Stu, I always appreciate them.

Comments are closed.